An Arizona high school basketball referee has been fired after allegedly making racist comments before a game on Tuesday at Walden Grove High School in Sahuarita.
The referee, whose name the Arizona Interscholastic Association would not release, reportedly asked the head coach of visiting Pueblo High School shortly before tip-off if his players had green cards. Pueblo is located in a largely Hispanic part of Tucson, and according to the most recent data from the US News & World report, 89 percent of the students at the school are Hispanic.
Removing any doubt of intent, the referee reportedly knew the head coach of Pueblo, according to News 4 Tucson, and that he also worked for the Border Patrol.
While the players were not out on the court at the time, fans heard the comment, and word spread after a parent posted a picture of the referee and what he said on social media.
The AIA initially called the comment “inappropriate” and announced that the referee had been dismissed for violating their code of ethics, which call for members to “uphold the integrity and dignity of the profession.” The Association released a second statement on Thursday:
“During the course of pregame conversations between the basketball coach at an AIA member school and an assigned contest official, the official made an inappropriate comment overheard by parents in the surrounding area. Due to this comment, the official has been dismissed from working any further contests for the association. The comment, while made in jest and in no way was meant as an attempt of legal action, cannot be justified within the spirit of educational athletics.”
Racism getting called out on social media
Referees and people in general making racist comments are nothing new, although social media has allowed more people to see how widespread issues can be.
Less than a month ago, a New Jersey high school wrestling referee forced an African-American student to cut his dreadlocks before a match, despite his hair not breaking the rules. The referee, who is white and was previously accused of using a racial slur, was eventually fired after an investigation.
Like the racist comment from the basketball referee, the story of the New Jersey wrestling coach took off after a viral social media post. Racists and racist behavior deserve to be called out, and national exposure to this reality is only a good thing.